COUNTY mayor Declan Hurley has called for the main road between Bandon and Bantry to be upgraded from a regional road to a national secondary route.
Speaking at a meeting of the West Cork Municipal District, the Mayor said: ‘The R586 serves as a gateway to West Cork, providing access to the main towns of Dunmanway, Bantry and Castletownbere, as well as the key villages of Ballineen and Enniskeane, as well as Drimoleague and Glengarriff.’
He said the regional road is in a far superior condition to the area’s national primary route, the N71, which goes via Clonakilty, Leap and Skibbereen.
At present, he said the R586 is ‘the key transport access route to West Cork and is an important economic and employment corridor to West Cork.’
It is used daily in the service of national economic hubs like the fishing port in Castletownbere, as well as the Whiddy Island oil terminal off Bantry.
The fact that there are large scale food processing facilities along the route – such as Carbery outside of Ballineen and Enniskeane – means it is worthy of consideration to be upgraded from a regional road to a national secondary route, according to the mayor.
Cllr Hurley said the good condition of the road network itself means it is favoured by goods carriers going to and from Cork, and it is shorter, too, by approximately 20km, and has fewer delays associated with the population centres along the route.
By reclassifying it as a national secondary route, Cllr Hurley said it would increase the profile of the central area of West Cork and allow the region’s natural potential to develop.
The mayor said the directness of the route from Cork to Bantry and Castletownbere is one of the main reasons it deserves reclassification.
Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF) seconded his motion, saying: ‘A reclassification would attract investment all along that route.’
He also said that the N71 is not seen as an option for road users, particularly hauliers, because of its condition.